Haverford High School Best Buddies’ 20th annual Wing Bowl was held in the auditorium during fourth block on Friday, February 11th. The Wing Bowl, which is a wing-eating contest between students and teachers, raises money for Best Buddies, an organization whose mission is to offer “one-to-one friendship and leadership development for individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities.” A $100 prize is given to the winner of the contest, whether the winner is a student or a teacher. The event is always a success for the group, and this year was no different; tickets sold out after only one day.
The packed auditorium of students (each of whom had paid a one-dollar admission fee), teachers, administrators, and even some parents of the competitors began to quiet down as English teacher Mike Mullen announced that the competition was soon to begin. After Juniors Sophia Politano and Katie Blickley sang the national anthem, the audience was happy to see the student round begin.
The first of three rounds, the Student Round, was made up of five competitors: Jacob “Wing Von” La, Toshan “Stranger Wings” Gosian, Ryan “Mr. Boneless” Schindler, Patrick “DJ Patty Cakes” Morris, and John Cassel. Each competitor entered the auditorium in a dramatic fashion. First to appear was Senior Jacob La, who, bathed in red light and surrounded by an entourage of men in suits, walked down the aisle in a ski mask. Next was John Cassel, who entered the room wearing a dark red robe and took his place on stage only after ‘knocking-out’ a member of his entourage using his blue boxing gloves. Following Cassel was Senior Ryan Shindler, who, wearing a kippah and proudly holding a framed painting of a cat, paraded down the aisle with a group of his friends. After Shindler was Junior Toshan Gosian who, faithful to his nickname “Stranger Wings,” arrived with an entourage dressed as the main cast of Stranger Things season 3. Finally, Senior Patrick Morris entered the auditorium wearing a neon-orange brimmed hat and followed by an entourage wearing similar flashy hats.
As the Student Round began, the ten-minute timer started to count down. Each of the competitors adopted a unique strategy to eat as many chicken wings, all donated by Sam’s Pizza in Ardmore, as possible. However, every participant was held to the same rules, including that there must be no meat left on the bone in order for a wing to be counted as eaten.
Meanwhile, the lively audience cheered on their favorite competitors and were subject to several trivia questions from emcee Mullen. In addition, raffle winners were announced, which was met with excitement from those who had bought tickets.
After a grueling round of competition, the results of the student section of the competition were announced once the wings had been properly counted. Patrick Morris managed to eat 17 wings, Ryan Shindler 18, Toshan Gosian 22, John Cassels 24, and, last but certainly not least, Jacob La ate a total of 26 wings in ten minutes, beating the rest of the contestants and winning the first round.
The Wing Bowl was far from over, however, as the teacher round was just about to begin. Just as the students had, each of the teacher competitors entered the auditorium triumphantly: Social Studies teacher Leon “Wakanda-Wing-King” Smith ran in wearing a Black Panther mask, English teacher Sarah “Crispy Chicken” Crispin walked down the aisle wearing cat ears and a peculiar set of chicken pants, Math teacher Shannon “Wing Rider” Moore confidently entered the room dressed in sunglasses, fake arm tattoos, and a Harley Davidson ‘jacket,’ Athletic Director Greg “the Ad-WING-istrator” Decina boldly strutted down to the stage while he handed each of the layers of jackets he had been taking off to his assistant, and finally Coach Joe “Wing King” Jones arrived, dressed in truly regal wear.
The teacher round began with, once again, each of the competitors using a different strategy to eat the wings. For example, Smith completely ignored reality, keeping one airpod in as he ate.
During the teacher round, emcee Mullen called raffle tickets, students danced in the open space between the crowd and “wing-ers”, and Mullen entertained the audience with trivia questions. The round ended, and students returned to their seats, eager to hear the score.
Crispin came in last place, only eating 11 wings and fourth place was held by Moore who had eaten 16 total wings. In third place was Coach Jones, who ate 17 wings, only one more than Moore. Smith took second place, eating 20 wings in total. Finally, Decina took first place eating 25 wings, an impressive feat for anyone.
With the winners announced, the final round soon started, with the winner of the student round, Jacob La, and the winner of the teacher round, A.D. Greg Decina, battling one-on-one to see who could eat the most in only three minutes.
Despite the finalists having already eaten 25+ wings, both Jacob La and A.D. Decina managed to complete the round, with La eating 6 additional wings and Decina eating a winning 7 additional wings. Decina took Coach Jones’s crown and scepter and wore them himself, as he was now the official winner of the 2022 Wing Bowl. Despite the intense competition, both La and Decina were glad to have competed and seemed in good spirits after the event had wrapped up. Athletic Director Decina, the winner of the $100 cash prize, donated the money back to Best Buddies, concluding another successful Wing Bowl with Best Buddies the real winner.